Babel undone

I remember back in the mid–’90s when the first major online translater, Babelfish, came online, promising to take submitted texts into and out of a handful of major European languages. Soon everyone and their roommate was coming up with hilarious round-trip translations, cycling a phrase through two or three languages and then back to English to see what gibberish resulted. Fast-forward to today: the translation engines have expanded and matured. Yesterday I noticed that Google Translate had added a number of minor European and not-so-minor Asian languages to their arsenal. So I did the obvious thing: cycled the story of the Tower of Babel through all 41 available languages (and 8 distinct alphabets). Most of the final story was, indeed, barely recognizable, but the end, Genesis 11:8–9, impressively survived—diminished, rounded, and worn smooth like a river stone.

So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

English–Albanian–Arabic–Bulgarian–Catalan–Chinese–Croatian–Czech–Danish–Dutch–Estonian–Filipino–Finnish–French–Galician–German–Greek–Hebrew–Hindi–Hungarian–Indonesian–Italian–Japanese–Korean–Latvian–Lithuanian–Maltese–Norwegian–Polish–Portuguese–Romanian–Russian–Serbian–Slovak–Slovenian–Spanish–Swedish–Thai–Turkish–Ukrainian–Vietnamese–English

Then stop developing city and region. Yes, more than one world language. Reverse direction in this area.


Originally published at culture-making.com.

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